HAGERSTOWN — Industrial wind turbines will not be allowed in or near the town.
The Hagerstown Town Council plans to enact a zoning change that will effectively ban industrial-sized wind turbines in an area referred to as the two-mile fringe, council members told a room full of area residents Monday. The two-mile fringe is an area outside of town where town development and zoning standards apply.
About 15 people attended the meeting to ask the council for action against plans by an international utility company to put up wind turbines.
Even before the assembled group gave its information, council members presented a plan to keep wind turbines out of the area. The plan involves extending a flight path regulation covering the Hagerstown Airport to cover the entire two-mile fringe, said council member Brian Longbons. Most of the two-mile fringe is already in the flight path area, where structures cannot exceed 100 feet in height.
Industrial wind turbines are usually more than 150 feet tall.
Many of the same group of people had attended a town plan commission meeting Nov. 9 to encourage the town to act against a wind turbine proposal put forth by EDP Renewables. According to a map of the proposal, wind turbines are planned north and west of the town’s zoning area. Members of the group said they fear that if that current proposal is approved, it would be only the first step towards having hundreds of wind turbines surrounding the town.
Chris Mull, a home builder from Hagerstown, said, “I’m not against renewable energy. I’m against them surrounding our community and the power being shipped out” to the profit of the electric utilities.
Jeff Richards, co-owner of a local business, said the group has met with Wayne County government authorities about the proposal and plan to meet with them again Dec. 5. They hope the county will enact regulations banning or putting strict limits on where industrial wind turbines can be built.
The group opposes construction of wind turbines because of their effects on human and animal health, property values and the killing of birds and bats. If the federal subsidies favoring alternative energy sources such as wind are repealed, then abandoned wind turbines might be left in place, Richards said.
The wind proposal includes sites in northern Wayne County, eastern Henry County and southern Randolph County. Richards said his group has been in contact with the proposal’s opponents in the other counties.
EDP Renewables, based in Houston, is the American branch of a global company based in Spain.
Longbons and other council members said the town’s proposed action will not keep individual property owners from putting up smaller turbines that would generate power for single homes or buildings.
In other business on Monday, the council agreed to waive some sewage fees for a building at 51 S. Perry St. while its new owners renovate it. Rebecca Davis said she and her husband have purchased the dilapidated building. Because it had seven apartments and two commercial units, it is billed for nine sewer connections. During renovation, which is expected to take up to a year, the town will bill for only one sewer connection.
The three-story building was constructed in about 1843 and is said to be the oldest commercial brick building in town.
Town council will meet next at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, in town hall, 49 E. College St., Hagerstown. The public may attend.